Enjoying the calm before the storm: getting out for a walk with baby

Getting out for a walk with baby

As you can see on our homepage, Wild Happy Well is all about enhancing our connection to nature for all the family. To me, particularly as a new mum, the most basic way to do this is to get out for a walk. In the early days of having a baby getting out is no mean feat. Getting out for a walk with baby requires planning: the right kit, good timing, and a suitable route. In today’s post I tell you about one of my recent nature walks with Archie and talk you through the practicalities of my choices, the benefits they provide, and how you can circumnavigate some of the potential pitfalls of getting out and about on foot with baby.

Reset and recharge

The day started off beautifully weather-wise (we’ll ignore the 4:45 AM wake-up call from Archie…). Hubby remarked that if I was going to go out I should do it sooner rather than later as the weather would turn due to Storm Stella coming in. As Archie had had a good nap in his bed in the morning I planned to head out on foot with him at lunchtime. That day was also momentous for Archie as it was his first day of weaning, so during his late morning feed I’d introduced him to some baby rice made up in (breast)milk. I’d normally take him out for a walk in the buggy and bassinet but as he’s been quite a sickie baby I thought keeping him upright after his first solids was a good idea so I plumped for the sling instead.

We toddled off for a good hour or so down the paths in our village to my favourite field; a little patch of countryside nestled amongst some fabulous properties, with far reaching views to the city and hills beyond. It gives me the space, light, air, and greenery that I need to strip away the cabin fever. It kinda presses my reset and recharge buttons. We headed a little beyond there until the winds began to whip up, the temperature dropped and the clouds rolled in. With a nipper in tow you always need to turn back sooner than you think – where I’d happily march back home in some refreshing rain, a soggy baby won’t thank you for it! We were lucky and got home just in time. We’d made the most of the beautiful calm before the storm enjoying some clean fresh air and I got to properly stretch my legs in peace and quiet as he slept the whole way. Most importantly, we had both been able to happily absorb some goodness from a little pocket of nature not far from home with minimal effort or assistance. To me that feels quite a lot like freedom and good fortune, for which I am very grateful.

So, what made getting out for a walk with baby relatively easy and hassle-free?

Kit

Choosing to take baby out in a sling means I need to be wearing the right tops – no zips that would dig into Archie’s face, and a high enough neckline so that he can’t suck my skin (as he likes to do sometimes…drool everywhere!) or get stuck to my skin as I inevitably get a bit sweaty during the walk. I like to wear a suitable tee and layer up with a fleece/body warmer or coat as the weather requires. I find this gives me a nice amount of flexibility as I will warm up or cool down with minimal disruption to a (probably) snoozing baby.

As for Archie’s get-up, I find a short-sleeved vest and long sleeved, thickish top are typically fine in the sling, which is quite thick (Ergobaby 360) with a water-resistant, fleece lined sling cover (Bebamour). The latter has a hood that keeps the wind and rain off his head and face. He’s normally in comfy leggings and socks so I add Mocc-Ons to keep his tootsies nice and warm in the sling cover. Stick a hat on top and he’s good to go! The Bebamour cover is nice in that it covers his arms and hands in soft fleece and if I have got a zippy fleece on undone as well then his hands are always tucked into something warm. The sling cover is great as it also has a handy pouch on the front that I use to store a clean muslin and some snacks for me, plus I can put my hands in there to keep them warm. I don’t normally bother carrying the change bag as well if we’re just walking from the house as I will never be that far away and he’s normally asleep. However, this is a bit risky – I’ll probably get caught out by a mega-poo-explosion at some point!

Archie walk kit cropped
Archie demonstrating the quick walk kit! Left to right: Ergobaby 360, Mocc-Ons and hat, Bebamour sling cover, muslin and snack.

Timing

You say timing and immediately think timing for baby, and yes this is most crucial. I tend to try and time going out with when I expect Archie to be tired for a nap. It normally takes him about 10 to 15 minutes to drop off; sometimes less if he’s really zonked. But it is also important to time it for you – I find it can be easy to forget about my own energy levels and often the walking nap falls over lunchtime, so it’s important to make sure you’ve either had some food or got something to take with you that you can eat on the move. Also a simple thing, go to the loo before putting baby in the sling! The number of times I’ve got all ready to go and then nature has called in the most basic way… Such a faff to deal with, especially with an increasingly tired (ie. screaming) baby!

Route

Oh, how I have been thwarted by kissing gates that are just too small for the buggy, or styles that you just don’t recall being there! As you get started going out with all the paraphernalia of a baby, it suddenly makes that nice little ramble to one’s favourite field more akin to climbing Ben Nevis in a sleeping bag. It can be incredibly disheartening when you’re merrily on your way to find that just because you have a baby in tow you can’t go where you want to. Or you can’t get yourself, plus baby, plus stuff over/around/through an obstacle because of the after effects of pregnancy and birth. This is something that has got me down on more than one occasion. When your core stability is shot, your joints hurt, you’re still healing, and you’re carrying/pushing the weight of baby plus stuff and maybe still a few pregnancy pounds, it can demand a huge amount of physical and sometimes emotional effort to keep going. Be kind to yourself and chalk it down to learning the new parent ropes. We have all been there. There are compromises to be made in pretty much all aspects of a new parent’s life, some that last longer than others, but with a bit of forethought and research, plus a few choice pieces of kit, you can get yourself and baby out to many varied natural spaces to get your wild nature fix.

Today’s task: tell me your stories of how you get your easy nature fixes in the comments below.

New blossom; new beginnings – becoming a mother

HELLO!!!

My first post, yeeeehahhh! This is momentous to me as it means I have set aside particular me time for writing. Add to that the fact that I am having a baby-free few hours, am currently sat in a quaint teashop sipping posh peppermint and you have one happy, slightly hyper Nina! We’ll gloss over the fact that to arrive at this happy position I had to return home after previously arriving at said quaint teashop only to realise I’d left my wallet in the baby change bag… I haven’t had a ‘me bag’ since becoming a mother so in the heady excitement of setting off, my mushy baby brain overlooked that obvious necessity! Anyway, I am here now huzzah! (And the posh peppermint is served in gorgeous gilt-edged fine bone china. Oh yes.) In today’s inaugural post it feels appropriate to tell you a bit about the new beginnings that have been manifesting in my life as we step eagerly into Spring. (All photos in this post taken by yours truly on my Nikon D7000, post-processed by hubby in Adobe Bridge and Photoshop.)

Becoming a mother: new blossom and a new me

The peach tree in our garden has exploded into beautiful pale pink blossom over the last few days. That, and a little warm sunshine makes me feel like I’m emerging from a long, cold winter at last. This winter has been the strangest of my life so far. My first child, Archie, was born just before the weather turned cold for the season so I have been metamorphosing within the chrysalis, the cocoon of my home. Nina: biologist, wife, dancer, has become Nina: mother, wife, biologist (dancer?). Everybody says that nothing can prepare you for the way having your first child turns your world upside down, but somehow that statement doesn’t quite do justice to the earth-shattering/mind-bending/sleep-depriving/relationship-redefining process of getting through those first few months of being parents. The fact that it occurred over winter added an extra layer of surrealism for me. I regularly need air. Fresh air. Greenery. Nature. Having a small baby in the harshest season challenged satisfying that basic need for me. That’s because doing anything – ANYTHING – with your first small child requires almost military planning and a whole host of additional paraphernalia that you invariably don’t yet know how to work/manage, plus the physical and emotional strength to be constantly challenging what your perhaps battered body and rollercoaster hormones can deal with. But, it also gives you absolute freedom to stay the heck indoors if you want. After all, getting to know your new baby – and your new YOU – is of paramount importance. I haven’t been driving myself to get out by any means, simple walks around the block, or peeking about the garden to see what the plants are doing has generally been sufficient for me. But as the weather has been improving, I’ve been feeling the energy awakening within me again…the call of the great outdoors (or at least my greenhouse), to see little green things grow again, and to have the freedom to go out pretty much when the mood takes me.

My garden sanctuary

It’s no hidden nature spa or anything, but my greenhouse is my garden space. I can potter about tending little plantlings, organising my supplies and tools, or simply sit in the evening sun and listen to the birds. Whatever I do, or don’t do, I can just enjoy myself being outside and in the sights and sounds of nature. I’m not an experienced gardener by any means. Gardening and being in the garden give me pleasure and that’s enough for now. I don’t know what I might achieve in the garden this year with my own little sprig of a baby so it’s important I don’t put pressure on myself. My aim is to try to keep the greenhouse tidy and free of pests, and to grow a few things that I did well with last year: mange tout and baby corn were particular successes. We shall see… I hope you’ll join me for the journey!